Saxophonist Matt Keegan brings together past and present in his suite Vienna Dreaming, which draws on the life of his great grandfather Heini Portnoj. An Austrian Jew, Heini’s career as a musician and composer in Vienna was cut short by the rise of Nazism, but he managed to escape the city with his wife and child, coming to Australia as a refugee in 1940 and winding up in Australia’s Tatura internment camp. He was released at the end of the war and went on to have a successful career as a pianist, accompanist and operatic singing coach in Australia. Keegan spoke to Limelightabout the suite, which will have its first live performances at Mary’s Underground, Sydney, on 28 February.

Matt Keegan Composer and saxophonist Matt Keegan

How did you first come to learn the story of your great grandfather’s life?

I was always aware that my grandmother on my mother’s side was from Vienna and that my great grandfather had been a musician. But the specific details of Heini’s story came via my Aunt Julia. She has been...